Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria

4.9
779 Reviews
$30 and under
Tapas / Small Plates
Clarke Merrell's (Circa 81 Executive Chef/Proprietor) goal is for Circa 81 to provide creative, quality, & delicious food in a beautiful setting. Offering small plates that are perfect for passing around the table in true tapas style, our dishes are meant to inspire and engage our diners. So, start a conversation, relax, and enjoy a fresh take on cuisine. Clarke developed Circa 81 in hopes that guests will try something new and different and truly have a dining experience. Circa 81 offers great wine and cocktails too, with more than 30 specialty drinks on our cocktaileria menu. Our menu also includes medium and large plate selections - delicious sandwiches, homemade soups, local seafood and fresh-made desserts.

Circa 81 also offers take-out and catering - just contact us for more details.

Safety precautions

Cleaning & Sanitizing
  • Surfaces sanitized between seatings
  • Digital, disposable or sanitized menu provided
Screening
  • Sick staff prohibited in the workplace

Featured specials

Select a special by choosing a date, time and party size

New Year's Eve Special Menus & Offers

Dine in
Starting Dec 31, 2021

We will be open for lunch and dinner on 12/31. Lunch 11:30am-2pm and dinner 5-9:30pm. Parties of 4 or more should call to reserve. Special prix fixe menu will be available as well as our full menu. Happy New Year!

What 779 people are saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.9based on recent ratings
4.9
food
4.8
service
4.7
ambience
4.7
value
Noise · Moderate
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OT
OpenTable Diner
Las Vegas
6 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Phenomenal staff and food!! Waitress was kind and knew the menu well, service was top notch. This place has become a favorite.

D
Dthompson
Raleigh
17 reviews
Dined on October 17, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Excellent brunch! The food and service were fabulous!

G
Gurk
Richmond
16 reviews
Dined on October 16, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great as always.

ML
MariaL
Miami
1 review
Dined on October 13, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Excellent food and service! This restaurant never disappoints.

MB
vipMikeB
Pittsburgh
10 reviews
Dined on October 13, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Our favorite restaurant when visiting

S
Southbay
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on October 9, 2021
Overall4food4service5ambience2

We went to Circa 81 for the first time, celebrating a milestone life event. The food was very good, and the service was exemplar. Jaime was very attentive and friendly. However, the hostess was a bit slovenly dressed in a t-shirt that said “But first, coffee”. Not really what I want to be greeted by when I come in to have a celebratory meal, dropping +$100 on dinner. Also, the front door area and siding was dirty and could use some fresh paint. The interior was clean and comfortable, but no real atmosphere.

CK
ChrisK
Wilmington
1 review
Dined on October 6, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Many times we have visited, and each and every time everything is excellent.

LH
LorettaH
1 review
Dined on October 3, 2021
Overall3food4service1ambience4

Circa Benedict was fabulous, but the side of home fries were soft and flavorless. Shrimp and grits was delicious and a reasonably-sized portion. Orange basil mojito was good (a little on the strong side, but my husband liked that). $15 pitcher of Cava Sangria was yummy, like a mix of a mimosa and a sangria. Hosts at front door were pleasant, server was a little slow to greet, but friendly and energetic, took our order, delivered our drinks, never came back to check on us. He did not seem busy with work, but was always busy chit-chatting with other customers. After we had finished our meal, he yelled across the room from behind the bar and asked how we were doing, as he could see we were looking at the drink menu again. I told him we wanted to order more drinks. He continued to chit-chat with the single couple ar the bar for another 10-15 minutes before he finally came to our table to get our drink order. By then, my husband had submitted to just drinking from my sangria pitcher.. We told him we just wanted our check, which he promptly brought over, brazenly included with the bill was a comment card, which I used to describe our disappointing dining experience. Handed the comment card to an older gentleman who appeared to possibly be the owner or manager. With the comments provided, I expected some sort of response from management from a restaurant with the appearance and price-point of an upper-scale dining establishment, but... crickets.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on October 6, 2021

We are so sorry to hear you did not have a great dining experience and will share your feedback with our team. Neither of the owners were aware of the feedback until receiving this review. We appreciate your candid feedback and will work to address your concerns. We take great pride in providing an outstanding dining experience and apologize that we missed the mark. Thank you for sharing your concerns and for your time.

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SP
SteveP
Raleigh
11 reviews
Dined on October 3, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The best service and food around. The people are friendly and the venue is awesome. Makes my wife happy every visit. This is a special place to go.

NR
NancyR
1 review
Dined on October 1, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Excellent food and excellent service. I would highly recommend it.

AL
vipAnneL
Chicago
18 reviews
Dined on September 29, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience3

The food is inventive and delicious, portions good for tapas. Overall a fantastic meal from start to finish!

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
Louisville
17 reviews
Dined on September 29, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

A feast for the taste buds in every plate! And believe me, I’ve tried them all at least five times!

MB
vipMikeB
Pittsburgh
10 reviews
Dined on September 26, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Enjoyed my birthday brunch

s
stephaniel
1 review
Dined on September 24, 2021
Overall5food4service5ambience5

Great place for a date night. Small, intimate and plenty of choices for every taste preference. Reasonable prices and great service.

CB
CarolynB
1 review
Dined on September 18, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience4

My husband and I think it’s the best restaurant in Moorehead city!! And Beaufort combined!

H
vipHank22
Wilmington
52 reviews
Dined on September 15, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Food was delicious and service was excellent

d
dbg28
New York Area
10 reviews
Dined on September 9, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

This restaurant is not only in my top 5 in NC but in NY/NJ as well. The tapas are creative and delicious. Our server last night, Nadia, was outstanding. I had a cucumber basil Mojito and it was the best cocktail I’ve had in NC I while on vacation in the past 2 weeks. We’ll be back next time we’re in NC.

BA
BARBARA
1 review
Dined on September 9, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food, fabulous service, delicious beverages as always

KG
KathrynG
Western NC
1 review
Dined on September 4, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Absolutely scrumptious!!! Will be a staple for us!!

SM
SarahM
Raleigh
4 reviews
Dined on September 4, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We celebrated my husband’s birthday at Circa. The food was delicious. We had 7-8 different tapas and a couple of the large plates. Everything was wonderful. The service was very friendly and attentive. We love Circa and will always visit when we’re in town.

RM
RobertM
Charleston
6 reviews
Dined on September 1, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Outstanding food, great service, friendly staff. Our go to place for date night.

j
jano
Wilmington
8 reviews
Dined on August 28, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food as always

NH
NottHeads
Baltimore
3 reviews
Dined on August 28, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We eat here every chance we get. Jamie was our server, she was fantastic. We wanted for nothing. The food is fanatics. Wonderful flavors and food combinations. Great bar menu. Seriously we’ve tried just about everything on the food menu. Try this gem, you won’t be disappointed.

MM
MichaelM
1 review
Dined on August 28, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Nice atmosphere, nice variety, food and service were on point. Definitely recommend.

NC
NCdiner
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on August 26, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Superb food and service! We ordered the gambas al ajillo, bread service, black bean quesadilla bites, potatoes bravas, rib eye and cavatappi shrimp pasta - SO DELICIOUS! Plus their moscow mule was great as well!

P
Pattim
Washington DC
6 reviews
Dined on August 25, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

My favorite place in the whole world to eat. Everything was wonderful

OT
OpenTable Diner
Philadelphia
4 reviews
Dined on August 14, 2021
Overall4food4service3ambience4

Always enjoy Circa 81. Enjoy!

Report
S
vipSusan
Naples
10 reviews
Dined on August 11, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Every dish is delicious, many layers of flavors. Obviously a lot of effort put into developing the best flavors by chef and his staff.

We like how the staff works together to bring dishes out promptly when they are ready to be served.

We have had Sean our last two visits, and think he is a hard working, very knowledgeable member of the waitstaff.

We come back to Circa 81 every time we visit Emerald Isle- from our home in Pittsburgh- and we tell others about your restaurant as well!

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on August 11, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The food and service was excellent. We are visiting from out of town, Northern VA. And wanted to find a nice place for a date night. We had the Shrimp and Gritts, Scallops and Ribeye Steak. All exceeded our expectations and were cooked to perfection. We also had a Mojito and Malbec (Don Miguel) which were also excellent. Would highly recommend this place.

JD
JohnD
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on August 11, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Our go to place in the area! Excellent selection of tasty well prepared tapas and large plates as well.

WR
WilliamR
1 review
Dined on August 8, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The food and service were both outstanding.I recommend this restaurant 100%. The ribs and debris and the desserts we’re all fabulous

BP
BarbaraP
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on August 7, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Our final night out at the beach and so glad we spent it at Circa 81. Staff was so attentive and personable and food and drinks were on point.

TK
TerriKHNC
Raleigh
8 reviews
Dined on August 6, 2021
Overall4food5service5ambience4

We enjoyed a delightful dinner at Circa 81. We were celebrating a milestone birthday for my husband and a milestone anniversary for friends. Everything was first class during our evening -- cocktails, appetizers, wine, entrees, and desserts. Although I mentioned our celebrations in our OpenTable reservation and to our server, there was no complimentary dessert for the birthday boy or for the golden anniversary celebrants. Maybe next time!

k
kristis
1 review
Dined on August 1, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

As usual, great dining experience. Food was amazing - from the generous "half" size charcuterie board through a sampling of small plates to dessert (try to save room for it). Our server, Jamie, was excellent. Thank you for a delightful evening - sorry we stuck around late, but we were enjoying everything!

KS
KimberleeS
Raleigh
2 reviews
Dined on July 31, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

I could not recommend this restaurant enough! Everything we had was absolutely amazing! We tried the shrimp & grits, rosemary beef, bacon-wrapped dates, quesadilla, and dessert! The staff were super-friendly, helpful so the service was excellent. We will definitely go back!

JP
vipJacP
Greensboro
9 reviews
Dined on July 29, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Always delicious. Favorites include: rosemary beef, crab dip, brussels sprouts, pot stickers, black bean quesadilla with chicken, brie, calamari special, dates, mojitos, etc. Very friendly and attentive staff. Love that they take reservations.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Philadelphia
5 reviews
Dined on July 29, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Always a great experience.

NW
vipNut4Wine
New York Area
30 reviews
Dined on July 25, 2021
Overall4food4service4ambience4

We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at Circa 81. We've been meaning to try it for a while and finally had the opportunity. Food was well-prepared and presented very nicely. Drinks were good and reasonably priced. The waiter was attentive and helpful without getting in the way. All in all, we're looking forward to returning and will bring friends with us.

B
Bronx61
New York Area
18 reviews
Dined on July 25, 2021
Overall5food4service5ambience5

Former NYers, we recommend Circa 81 to all who appreciate the culinary expertise and service attention of a first class NY restaurant, North Carolina food traditions are delicately and deliciously preserved by the chef and staff of this southern gem.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Baltimore
4 reviews
Dined on July 24, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great experience. Sonya was excellent as well the entire staff. Great food, was a lot of fun.

FAQs

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria offers takeout which you can order by calling the restaurant at (252) 648-8300.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria is rated 4.9 stars by 779 OpenTable diners.

Yes, you can generally book this restaurant by choosing the date, time and party size on OpenTable. Due to local restrictions, this restaurant may not be accepting reservations at the moment.

Tweets by Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria